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Point Well Taken

Inspired by one of the oldest Olympic sports, would-be Robin Hoods are pouring into the Pasadena Roving Archers club.

August 09, 1996|MAYRAV SAAR | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Nestled between the arroyo and obscurity, the Pasadena Roving Archers club may become the official newfound city treasure of the 1996 Olympic games.

Would-be Robin Hoods have flooded the clubhouse phone lines and poured into the range's free Saturday beginners' classes, inspired by one of the oldest competitions in the Olympics, said Mike Jenkins, instruction coordinator.

"To quote one parent who brought in her two sons, 'I brought two budding Justin Huishes,' " said Jenkins, referring to the Simi Valley archer who hit the gold in the Olympics individual and team events. "One of the sons even came wearing his hat backward [a la Huish]. He thought that was the style."

As for drawing people to the little-known range, Atlanta has nothing on Hollywood.

"Kevin Costner's 'Robin Hood' brought out hordes," Jenkins said. "And the new movie 'Emma' will probably bring out a few more women."

"Whenever archery comes to the fore, people are drawn" to the club, Jenkins said. But its usually easier to spot bobcats than people on the brush-filled range.

The 36-acre field shares a home with hiking trails, horse paths and a fishing pond at the foot of the Colorado Street bridge. It's a beautiful place, and archer Carlos Funes, 23, said it is also a quiet place to practice.

"Nobody knows we're here," he said. "And we like it like that."

Funes said he spends eight hours a day, six days a week, practicing at the range, and on most days, he's one of only a few people on the course.

On a recent weekday, Funes tromped through the range and explained the lay of the land: There are 25 cardboard targets spread though a wide course for intermediate and advanced shooters, as well as six set up for beginners. Some of the other targets are hanging 3-D foam representations of animals.

"Those are fun," Funes said, sipping from an undrained drinking fountain whose deep well brims with water. "We leave it like that so that at night, the deer and the bobcats can drink from it," he said.

Funes called the range "one of the nicest in California," but he conceded that it is not one of the most challenging. There are few uphill targets and the weather conditions in Pasadena are, well, boring, he said, in a sport where "you've got to get used to the rain, hail, snow, wind."

To experience more varied degrees of difficulty and temperature, Funes heads out to a range in Chino. But usually he sticks to Roving Archers.

"I've been going here for 12 years," he said. "I know everyone."

"Everyone" refers to the 60 or so members who pay the $30 annual fee to join the Roving Archers club. Members are also required to attend four work parties a year to help keep the privately run facility looking sharp.

"The programs are open to the public at no charge, and we provide the safety gear," said Winfield Chin, 46, an instructor at the range, who added that member cooperation is vital to keeping the facility in operation.

Interested beginners should show up before 9 a.m. on Saturdays to get outfitted in the safety gear, Jenkins said. The four-lesson introduction classes run from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. and are open to all age groups.

"Ben Levinson, a 101-year-old man who had never shot before in his life, came to me eight weeks before the [club's Senior Olympics in May] because someone told him I could get him ready for the tournament," Jenkins said. "He went home with a gold medal."

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